You may or may not be attempting to plan a Valentine’s Day that doesn’t suck. There is challenge built in: Valentine’s Day is one of the most absurdly intense holidays in existence, and it’s coming. It’s coming, and it’s like a creepily strong hug from a 6-foot teddy bear that shouts "LOVE ME!” in an off-pitch voice. You will not escape its intense cuddle.
You have to plan, like it's an undead apocalypse. Get matches and gasoline. You don’t want to end up shopping for chocolate at Walgreens. You don’t want to be punching someone in the face, in the over-lit aisles, over a one-eyed stuffed bunny that says "I lurrrrv you" when its belly is pressed. If you make a list in advance, crossing out the ridiculous and unrealistic items, like buying a pygmy horse, you can come up with a Valentine’s Day that doesn’t suck.
To aid you in your planning, here's a guide to movie-watching on Valentine’s Day for every possible Valentine’s Day scenario. Many of them are on Netflix.
Scenario: Going out with a friend you secretly like
Movie you need: Drinking Buddies (2013)*
Movies to avoid: Bridge of Spies, Burnt, Everest, 50 Shades of Gray, English Patient
Maybe this is your scenario: You’ve made a pact with your friend to blow off the capitalistic BS behind Valentine’s Day, but you’re secretly hoping it will turn into a scene from Casino Royale where you’re riding steeds on the beach together. Yeah, you could watch Casablanca. That’s fine. Or you could go with Drinking Buddies, with Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson. It’s a modern romance that won’t make you hate everyone who made it. It’s sincere, genuine, funny, and as relaxed as a good T-shirt. It revolves around people who work in a microbrewery, for beer’s sake.
*It’s on Netflix!
Scenario: Trying it again with your ex
Movie you need: Out of Sight (1997)
Movies to avoid: Vanilla Sky, anything with “Love” in the title or Hugh Grant, The English Patient
You’ll need a movie with a sex factor of 109/100 for this scenario. If your relationship has been bumpy in the past, Out of Sight can smooth anything out — at least for the length of the film — because ‘90s George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez are the Merriam-Webster definition of sexual intercourse in this movie. It's like the hand on the window in Titanic, and you’ll be the turned-on equivalent of a supercollider. It’s really steamy. There's a strip tease scene. I think two parrots watching George Clooney as a bank robber and Jennifer Lopez as a leather-jacketed cop would consider bumping beaks.
Scenario: You’re definitely doing it later
Movie(s) you need: Y Tu Mamá También or Sex Y Lucia*
Movies to avoid: Bone Tomahawk, Love Actually, The One I Love, The English Patient
It is possible to watch an erotic movie that doesn’t suck (hey-o!). If you're going for erotic, don’t dumb down a lovely evening by watching a movie that’s just a douche bag guy’s POV of nude boobies running around. Watch a true-blue sexy film. Also don’t accidentally assume you’ve got a sexy, NC-17 thriller because of the title Bone Tomahawk (see below). You need a beautiful Spanish film that will make you shift and gulp, like Sex Y Lucia, Julio Médem's film about a woman escaping to a remote Spanish island after learning her boyfriend may have committed suicide, or Y Tu Mamá También, a funny and poignant film about two best friends on a weird and wild escapade with an older woman, directed by Alfonso Cuaron. In both films, sexuality is an open door, seen through the eyes of an artist.
*They’re on Netflix!
Scenario: Breaking up soon
Movie(s) you need: Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Movies to avoid (because they’re too stunning and too sexy for the scenario): Blue is the Warmest Color, Pride and Prejudice, Room in Rome
If this is your last Valentine’s Day with this person because you actually hate him or her, and you’re looking to maybe pour some cold water over the situation, I’ve got a perfect film for you! Bone goddamn Tomahawk. What’s Bone Tomahawk? Bone Tomahawk is a bleak, gory, brilliant horror-western with a death scene at the end that would make Quentin Tarantino hold out two hands and say, “That was a little much.” This isn’t a movie you finish and clink glasses of Champagne. The Revenant actually called to say this movie was a little brutal. Honestly, you may not cheers anything for a couple of years after the credits roll on this beautiful but very intense film.
Scenario: Third date
Movie you need: Say Anything (1989) or Amelie (2001)
Netflix movies to avoid: You’ve Got Mail, Titanic, Jerry Maguire, 50 Shades of Gray, movies starring David Schwimmer, Cider House Rules, The English Patient
In this scenario, you’ve just begun dating a few weeks before Valentine’s Day. It’s probably too late to do the Expensive Dinner at the Cool Restaurant, so you’re doing dinner and a movie at your place. Do not panic. Avoid bursting blood vessels in your eye from stress in the gourmet cheese section. You’ll need something smart, genuine and moving. 50 Shades of Gray will make you want to put a cheese knife in your neck, and calm down on the When Harry Met Sally. Say Anything is an approachable version of young love that won’t make you roll your eyes. It has a great soundtrack and a big damn heart. Anyone who doesn’t cheer for Lloyd Dobler when he’s holding up the stereo has a Grinch heart. Hey, remember stereos? Nostalgia can be romantic. Also accepted: Amelie. Who doesn’t like Amelie?
*They’re on Netflix!
Scenario: You’re going to the movie theater
Movie you need: Deadpool (Hear me out) or Zoolander 2 at LOOK Cinemas
Movies to avoid: 13 Hours: The Soldiers of Benghazi, Dirty Grandpa, The Boy
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There are two movies opening at LOOK Cinemas the Friday before Valentine’s Day, and they’re both absurdist comedies. Only one, however, is rated “R” for “strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity": Deadpool. The film, starring Ryan Reynolds, promises to be an absurd anti-hero film that will, at minimum, be unpredictable. See it at LOOK in Prestonwood, so you can watch Ryan Reynolds explode heads in big-ol' comfy chairs.
Scenario: Flying solo
Movie you need: Predator (1987)
Movies to avoid: Anything that’s not Predator
Here’s what you do: Make nachos. Open an ice cold beer, or a bottle of wine or shake-up a good cocktail, and watch Arnold Schwarzenegger fire explosive arrows into an alien hunter. Also acceptable is Guardians of the Galaxy, wherein Chris Pratt, who makes 100 percent of the human race smile, challenges an evil alien despot to a dance-off.